There is absolutely no denying that breastfeeding is an incredibly hot topic in the parenting community. But this time, we're not weighing the pros and cons of breastfeeding versus bottle feeding (thank goodness, right?), but the focus is on another incredible benefit of breastfeeding - and doing it longer. Yes, while some people may frown on extended breastfeeding, a new study shares a pretty huge benefit that might just have a lot of judgy people singing a different tune.
According to a study in Reuters, mothers who breastfeed for six months or longer have a much lower risk for liver disease. How does this happen? Simply put, the breastfeeding causes women to have less fat in their livers, which causes these lowered chances.
Over the years, breastfeeding has been linked to many health benefits for both mom and baby, but this study looked at whether nursing might also be tied to a reduced risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFDL), which is usually linked with obesity and certain eating habits.
The researchers involved in the study examined 844 women over the course of 25 years after they gave birth. Of these women, 32 percent reported nursing for up to a month, 25 percent said they breastfed for one to six months and 43 percent reported nursing for longer.
Once the study was over, the women involved were on average 49 years old. Out of this group, fifty-four, or about 6 percent, had developed NAFLD. However, the women who breastfed babies for at least six months were 52 percent less likely to develop the liver disease than mothers who nursed for less than one month, researchers report in the Journal of Hepatology.
In addition, the women who were a part of this breastfeeding research were actually part of an even larger analysis part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. They were all individually assesses back when they joined the study in 1985 and 1986, and surveyed about breastfeeding with any subsequent births, and then examined for fat in their liver at the end of the study using computed tomography.
While more research still needs to be done on the subject and this study can’t prove whether or how breastfeeding might keep women from developing NAFLD. And the study authors did note that the women who breastfed for longer periods of time could have had healthier lifestyles than the others, which in turn, contributed to their lower risk of liver disease.